Deja vu all over again as Glenn McGrath predicts Ashes whitewash

November 7, 2017

The two certainties of life - death and taxes - become three in cricket, in the form of Glenn McGrath predicting an Ashes whitewash for Australia, and the former fast bowler has done it again.

McGrath, who will be part of the BBC Test Match special commentary team, admitted to the broadcaster that his "5-0" predictions have become something of a running joke, and delivered another this time. 

He noted that the last series down under was one where he actually hadn't forecasted a whitewash, only for it to turn out that way as England crumbled against the blistering pace of a revived Mitchell Johnson, whose own wayward bowling on previous occasions had itself been the butt of much humour, but was able to remodel his action to devastating effect. 

McGrath remarked: "If I came out and said Australia are going to win 3-1 or 4-1 everyone will say 'oh, you're not very confident this tour, are you?' So I've dug myself into a bit of a hole but, yes, I am always happy to predict Australia’s going to win and it’s going to be a whitewash."   

Fans booking corporate hospitality for next year's Edgbaston Test between England and India will be among those hoping McGrath's words ring hollow this time. After all, he had also predicted a 5-0 whitewash before the Birmingham venue's most famous Test in 2005, when England won by two runs on their way to winning the Ashes for the first time in 18 years. McGrath mised that match when he injured his ankle in the warm-up.

Pre-Ashes predictions are all part of the fun as the first Test in Brisbane looms later this month, with England playing warm-up matches and Aussie players seeking to find their form in the Sheffield Shield.

The tourists managed to get in the runs in the opening match against a Western Australia XI in Perth, with Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Gary Ballance and Dawid Malan making half centuries. The quartet will be vying for three places in the batting order. With the ball, James Anderson carried on his impressive form from the summer by taking 4-27.

Explaining how the bowlers got plenty of value out of their first red ball match in two months, Anderson said: "I got better as the day went on and most of the bowlers would probably say the same. You have to bowl very different lengths to England - you can't be as full."

However, some of the Australians are tuning up well, with left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc becoming only the eighth bowler to take two hat-tricks in the same match as New South Wales beat Western Australia. 

It was only Starc's second Sheffield Shield match back after injury and as he took 8-73 in the first, he is clearly in potent form. 

While Starc hopes to take on the mantle of the retired Johnson, England will be searching for a replacement for Steven Finn, who injured his knee ligaments in practice and has been ruled out of the tour. 

Possible replacements could include Yorkshire's Liam Plunkett for his height and pace, or a wildcard selection such as the uncapped Warwickshire pace bowler Olly Stone.

Image: Getty, from Keith Prowse subscription 

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